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Government release update on Environment Bill

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

On 23rd July 2019, the Government released a policy statement update on the Environment Bill. You can read it here.

In summary:

  • Aspiration remains to deliver a Green Brexit and commitment to being the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it.

  • They are seeking to respond to recommendations by strengthening proposals for green governance, reinforcing the independence and accountability of the Office for Environmental Protection, as well as being able to bring legal proceedings against government and public authorities, if necessary.

  • Future governments will be required to set out clear plans and report on their progress in a statutory cycle of Environment Improvement Plans.

  • Through the Bill, they plan to introduce a mandatory approach to biodiversity net gain. This will require developers to ensure habitats for wildlife are enhanced, with a 10% increase in habitat value for wildlife compared with the pre-development baseline. There seem to be some caveats in the wording, such as exemptions to certain types of development, which will include nationally significant infrastructure projects and marine development.

  • Tackling air pollution is a key priority, enabling greater local action and underpinned with legislation into the Clean Air Strategy. This will hopefully provide additional support to Gloucestershire to deliver against the recently published Gloucestershire Air Quality and Health Strategy.

  • To help guide key policies like net gain, planning and the future Environmental Land Management system, they are proposing a new statutory requirement for Local Nature Recovery Strategies. These strategies will help to map out important habitats and opportunities for the local environment to be improved, linking communities’ knowledge and priorities with national environmental objectives

  • Local authorities will have a duty to consult with local communities to ensure that consultation takes place when a street tree is to be felled.

  • There is intention to legislate on conservation covenants.

  • Aspiration to become a circular economy for resources and waste management, setting resource-efficiency standards and clearer labelling for consumers, whilst implementing deposit return schemes. Within this, they plan to legislate to modernise the government’s powers to set producer responsibility obligations, extending them to prevention and redistribution of waste.

  • Water resource management is presented, but with little commitment to specific arrangements other than strengthening Ofwat’s powers.

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